Thursday, June 25, 2015

Urinetown?!

Every year members of Mighty Goliath Productions anticipate our announcement of our next show. By the looks of it, people are really excited. 

But with a name like Urinetown, leaves some of us scratching our heads. Why Urinetown

So I did what any good blogger does, I asked the Director, Douglas F. Bailey II, why Urinetown? Also asked why he thought it was important for Mighty Goliath Productions to do it, and now that he is also our Board President, how does that play into his approach? 

Why not Urinetown??? Seriously though, I elected to pitch Urinetown to our board of directors for about a thousand and one reasons. My initial attraction to Urinetown was that it's my all time favorite musical, and in my opinion it is under produced by the community theater world. It is an in your face comedy with very serious undertones. When deconstructed to it's furthest degree, Urinetown is a musical about being responsible with our natural resources and not destroying our home and planet. Layer in a  love story, a greedy and corrupt organization, and two narrators who have no problem poking fun at themselves and the show, particularly the name of the show, and you've got a hilarious romp that leaves you thinking as you leave the auditorium. 
Another HUGE attraction to Urinetown is it's constant callback to other iconic musicals. Each musical number was modeled after a past show, from Hello Dolly! to West Side Story toFiddler on the Roof, there is something in show to get everyone's toes tapping. Finally, like all Mighty Goliath shows, Urinetown is family friendly and fun for all ages.

"Why do we go to the theatre?" Theatrical experiences are about entertaining the audience, but more over, I believe we as performers, directors, etc have a responsibility to use the power of theater for good. Mighty Goliath does that in raising funds for the performing arts of Avon Lake, but I think it is also important for our productions to have "take aways" for the audience. Last year's Seussical: the Musical was about inclusion and self worth; Urinetown  is about overcoming corrupt entitieand working to preserve this beautiful rock that we live on. Urinetown is not Guys and Dolls or other Golden Age Musicals, but it is a funny, beautiful show with a wonderful message that can still pay homage to the great musicals that came before it. i think it's important to continue to expose people to the different types of productions that exist, while still keep the scope very specific to our organization.

Does being the board president change the way you approach the show? 

The much longer answer is that art should not be tampered with based on the expectations of position. I respect my colleagues on the board and on my production team enough to trust that they know my vision for Urinetown and Mighty Goliath Productions as a whole are similar. We're here to raise funds to keep the arts alive. In order to that, we need to produce a fantastic musical. Urinetown was on my list of shows to pitch to the board of directors as the returning Director long before I became President of the Board. This production, with the support of the many talents of Might Goliath is going to be something that our audiences have never seen before. And I think they're going to LOVE it.


Auditions will be announced soon so stay tuned. We'll be very excited to hear from you soon! 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sam Sarvas

Sam Sarvas photo: acgercak
Sam Sarvas is a Mighty Goliath Productions alum with an ambitious goal. She will graduate high school this year with a college degree. For most of us this seems impossible, but Sam took a bite out of the impossible and will do just that. Lorain County Community College has a program that lets high school students attend college and also attend high school. This is different that the typical post-secondary education that has been around for many years. This is a full-time program called Lorain County Early College High School.

The program is open to students in Lorain County who is a first generation college student, but it also accepts a short list of open enrollment students. That open enrollment is how Sam was able to take advantage of this groundbreaking program. Because she is at Lorain County Community College she can participate in the choral program there and also take voice lessons.

Sam is also the recipient of the MGP scholarship last year. $350 doesn't seem like a lot in the large scheme of things, but Sam was really able to maximize the benefits of the scholarship. She used her scholarship to buy an iPad, which seems silly, but in the age of electronics, hauling around an iPad for class not only cuts down on the items she will need for classes, but allows her to be a more mobile student. Most classes have homework assigned online Sam used her laptop to stay connected at all times, but that large piece of hardware was hard to carry around. By using the iPad she can also download coursework, books, and even research papers while keeping the load she has to bear to a minimum. Next year when she attends Cleveland State University to finish her 4 year degree, she will have a leg up on all the other freshmen entering college, because we will enter with an Associates Degree. Sam has chosen Cleveland State so she can be close to home and participate in MGP for years to come.

Sam has been able to take what some consider a small scholarship and use it for big things. Good luck next year Sam.

If you would like to apply for the Mighty Goliath Productions scholarship, click here. Deadline for Submissions is May 1, 2015.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Free Money

Seussical the Musical Production Staff (2015)
In 1959, I am not sure our founding founders thought about making Avon Lake one of the best communities nationwide to get a superior music education. Fast forward 56 years and here we are. Still raising money for the Avon Lake Schools.

As a whole, music education holds a place near and dear to our hearts. Many of our actors and actresses, stage crew, set designers, orchestra members, and audience members had some form of formal training at some point growing up. Whether it was band once a day, marching band, or drama club. We all loved our time in our school organizations.

Avon Lake is now one of 5 local communities honored with the distinction from North American Music Merchants as being one of 388 communities nationwide as being one of the best communities for music education. There are members of our board that went through the Avon Lake School system and would agree wholeheartedly that this is the case. There are those that participate in MGP that have never seen a school do so much for music education. Avon Lake residents should be proud to have such a great program in their city.

Music education isn't about playing an instrument. Music is a gateway to learning. Studies show that increases music education leads to better math grades, science grades, and opens students up to better critical thinking.

Mighty Goliath Productions wants to continue to support anyone who wants to further their music education into college. As per tradition MGP will award one small scholarship of $350.00 to a student this Spring. The requirements are simple; you must be enrolled (or enrolled for the Fall) in a two or four year college and have at least 3 years of musical theater experience. If you are interested in Applying all you have to do is click here. Once you've filled out the application, email it to our Board President, Doug Bailey ( douglasfbaileyii [at] gmail [dot] com ). Deadline for applications is May 1, 2015.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Striking the Set

photo c/o Samatha Sarvas
 Seussical the Musical has closed. The last day of February 2015 marked the last show for MGP's production and the agonizing process of tearing down the set that everyone worked so hard to build. The cast gathered on stage and took down the set, stored the costumes and all began speculating on next year's show.

It's always sad to wrap up a show. You pour your heart and soul into it from November til now, and the 5 shows you perform go so quickly. It always feels like there should be another show, another week, another month. 

But that's the fun of wrapping the show. The board meets soon, the new members of the board are brought up to speed and outgoing board members move onto taking a bit of a break. There they will start the process of closing the books on the show and work begins almost immediately on the next show. 

Stay tuned because we have a lot of ideas for things on the blog. It is going to be exciting. Thanks you for supporting the arts in Avon Lake, and that you for being amazing. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

We Are Family

(click to enlarge)

Mighty Goliath has filled the stage with tons of talented casts since 1959. In recent years MGP has been recognized for its choreography, actors, and actresses. There is an often overlooked dynamic of MGP casts that is uniquely MGP.

Family.

A lot of theater companies often talk about how much their cast feels like a family. You spend a lot of time with a cast every show, and MGP starts rehearsing the show on Fridays nearly 4 months before opening night. It can really start to feel like family, because in MGP's case, we are.

How many 13 year old kids do you know who often want to spend more time then necessary with their family? Not many, yet this year we have whole family units participating. Ian Atwood, who plays Horton the Elephant in Seussical the Musical is surrounded by family. His wife Jessie is the choreographer, his mother-in-law in the chorus and has helped with costumes, his father-in-law plays Dr Dink and is the assistant stage manager, his Cousin and Uncle have helped with sets and backstage as well. That is 6 folks from ONE family.

Family is what makes Mighty Goliath Productions operate. Not only do we put on a show to raise money for the Avon Lake Performing Arts Endowment Fund, but we also bring families together on stage. In a world full of distractions like video games and iPhones, MGP is still that beacon of family fun many families look forward to every single year. For 4 hours every Friday everyone puts away their distractions and focuses on putting on a great show, which is a feat considering how attached we all have become to our cell phones.

What does your family do for fun? Leave your answers in the comments.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Seussical the Musical



Well it's cold. I mean like really cold. Avon Lake Schools have canceled school for February 20, 2015. Well by a happy coincidence that also happens to be opening night for "Seussical the Musical". Now many folks would assume we are canceling the show. You know what happens when you assume don't you?

THE SHOW WILL GO ON!!

We've been working hard during this past tech week, putting the finishing touches on the show. We aren't canceling it. We know it will be cold, but they say the best way to stay warm is to huddle with a bunch of people. In a theater. Watching a show. With dancing. And singing.

Also you have to check out the behind the scenes video of what we have been doing all week. This video was the production of John Burgio, a student at Avon Lake High School. This video is the reason we raise money to keep the arts alive in our schools. The arts are the gateway to better math and science skills, better critical thinking skills, and a more creative atmosphere in general.

Come see us. The school might be closed, but the theater is certainly going to be open!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"And Then I'll Live Happily Happy...": MGP and My Battle With Pancreatic Cancer

By Brittney-Jade Colangelo

I've never been subtle about my disdain for Cleveland, OH.  I am a born and bred Chicago girl, and moving to Northeast Ohio was an incredibly strange and difficult adjustment.  Wait, you don't have a huge public transit service? Excuse me, you don't have an NHL team?  Hold the phone: YOU HAVE FLAT PIZZA?!  I can already hear you from the other side of the internet screaming, "If you hate it so much, why did you move here?"  The answer: Cleveland has an incredible theatre scene.

I had lived in the suburbs of Cleveland for only a month and a half when I saw an ad saying "MIGHTY GOLIATH PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS AUDITIONS!"  Immediately, I knew I had to go. ONCE UPON A MATTRESS was one of my favorite musicals, and I had a bitter vendetta about losing the lead role on a school-rule technicality back in high school that needed to be remedied.  I was extremely excited to start audition preparations when I saw the little asterisk of *volunteer*.  If there's one thing I learned growing up near Chicago, if someone wants you do perform your art without paying you...it's probably not worth your time.  I had all but written off MGP when I decided to check out their website before making any final decisions.

"Mighty Goliath Productions, most often referred to as MGP, is a musical theatre company comprised of adults, teenagers, and children from all over Lorain and Cuyahoga Counties that contributes funds towards the Performing Arts Department of Avon Lake High School, as well as the Endowment Fund for Avon Lake Public Schools. They have donated over $228,000 in proceeds to the Avon Lake Public Schools since 1959. The organization continues to be entirely comprised of volunteers who donate their time and talent as performing artists, technicians and administrators."

A theatre company donating their profits to the school theatre departments?  Okay. Yeah. I'll audition.

I showed up to the auditions and was immediately greeted by some of the most energetic and encouraging people.  Always afraid of being late, I was the first to arrive.  After filling out my audition paperwork, I sat in a room when it suddenly began to fill with dozens of people, all of whom spoke with one another like they were family.  I knew immediately that I wanted to work with these people.  I was called a week later and offered the role of "Princess Winnifred" one of the leading roles.  There were happy tears and an excited phone call to my mother.  My first audition in Ohio, and I nailed it.
Some of my favorite stills from ONCE UPON A MATTRESS

At our first read through, everyone introduced themselves and began saying how many shows they had done with MGP.  "This is my third show, this is my ninth show, this is my 30th show..."  I was amazed at the commitment from most of these people, and knew there must be something special about this group if they were coming back for more years than I had been alive on this earth.  The rehearsals for the show were hectic, frantic, and a ton of fun.  I made my first real friends since moving into a new time zone, and I finally started to feel like I might be able to find my place in this new chapter of my life.  As many people know, show weekends can be pretty intense.  I was running back and forth between job interviews and didn't have much time to breathe, let alone eat.  The stress and frantic nature of the show caught up to me, and I got sick.  In the middle of a Sunday Matinee, I felt extremely ill. In between scenes I was chugging water, pacing, and praying that I wouldn't throw up on stage.  Once the show had concluded, I changed out of costume and drove myself to the emergency room.  The doctors weren't really sure what was going on with me, so they did every test under the sun just to be safe. Blood tests, urine tests, CT scans, ultrasounds, everything. And that's when they found it. 

"We're not entirely sure what is making you feel ill, but there is something we need to tell you. Ma'am, we have noticed a large mass on the tail end of your pancreas. We are going to transfer you to University Hospital's Main Campus for a biopsy."

Within a week, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 23. I didn't want to freak anyone out at the show so I told everyone "the tumor is fine, but it has to come out." I was lying through my teeth. I knew I had cancer, I just didn't want to ruin the show.  After closing night, I came clean on Facebook and announced to everyone the truth. I had a rare form of a neuroendocrine tumor the size of a tennis ball on the tail of my pancreas. The type of cancer I had is similar as the one that killed Steve Jobs.  To put it into perspective for you, I had a 4% survival rate.  FOUR PERCENT.  I was in another timezone, I didn't know anyone, and I was dying.
Two weeks after the show: Missing a spleen, 40% of a pancreas, a tumor, and 22 lymph nodes
My surgery was scheduled two weeks after the show ended. Pumped with one round of chemo (that did absolutely nothing) and some radiation, doctors removed my spleen, 40% of my pancreas, the tennis ball sized tumor, and 22 lymph nodes.  A week before, I was jumping on top of a table and belting my face off. Now? I was crying while clumps of brown curls intertwined the bristles of my hairbrush and trying not to laugh/sneeze/cry/hiccup/burp/cough/yawn/or take big breaths. I had staples across my abdomen, I wasn't allowed to go anywhere without a guide, and I couldn't eat solid food for almost a month.  I was a mess.  

Luckily for me, MGP was there.  The second I was out of the hospital, I had people offering to cook me dinner, clean my house, do my laundry, and most importantly...just sit and talk with me about something other than "how are you feeling?"  I was new in town and didn't know a single soul, and when I needed someone more than anyone, the MGP family came out in droves.  The doctors still aren't sure what made me feel so sick, but they know my symptoms were unrelated to the cancer.  If I hadn't auditioned for ONCE UPON A MATTRESS, I wouldn't have gone to the hospital.  I was so proud of this show that I wanted to fix whatever was making me feel sick as soon as possible, and it saved my life.  Cleveland may have a sad excuse for pizza and some abysmal pot holes (seriously guys, fix that), but it brought me to MGP, and with that, brought me the greatest support system I've ever known. 

Next week I will miss the first full run through of SEUSSICAL: THE MUSICAL! because I will be undergoing my next (and hopefully last!) surgery.  Once it's over with, I should be cured and cleared of this pesky cancer.  Normally, I'd be a nervous wreck...but I'm not because I know that I'll be returning to a supportive and welcoming group.  

My new family.